If you could choose one person who understands the controversy surrounding the NFL protests for justice and equality, someone who played more than a decade and a half in the NFL might have insight into the issue. If that person’s résumé included a stint as the head of the players union, a job working in player engagement, years of social activism and a post in the NFL’s front office, that person might have a unique perspective on the subject.
Troy Vincent is that man.
Vincent is the NFL executive vice president of football operations, which makes him responsible for the competitive aspects of the game, including officiating, coaching development, and making sure every action on the field is fair to the teams and interesting to the NFL audience.
But his life and faith have placed him in the unique position to influence both the sport and the world. For more than 25 years, he has been a leader, activist and philanthropist, serving his community, the game of football and the men who compete on the gridiron. Lately, Vincent has become one of the leading voices engaging players and owners on both sides of the debate about player protests, injustice and inequality.
Ostensibly, the former star cornerback is charged with the competitive and technical inner workings of the sport, but Vincent also feels compelled to serve as a leader in bringing different factions together.
“My role is to facilitate those healthy conversations among communities, players, the commissioner’s office, owners,” Vincent told The Root in an exclusive interview. “Every day I ask God to help me help other people understand this issue and to find solutions.”
Growing up in the projects of Trenton, N.J., as a survivor of domestic violence, Vincent was a basketball and track athlete. He didn’t even begin playing football until his senior year of high school, when a gym teacher suggested that he try out for the football team.
Even with just one year of experience at the high school level, his athleticism and ability earned him a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. Eventually selected by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 1992 draft, Vincent played 16 seasons in the NFL with the Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills.
Despite making five consecutive Pro Bowls as a cornerback for the Eagles and being selected to the NFL’s All-Pro team, it was Vincent’s off-the-field leadership and activism that shone throughout his career.
In 2002 he received the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award, honoring his volunteer and charity work. He has received every award for philanthropy offered by the NFL, the Players Association and the league’s executives. Vincent also served as president of the NFL Players Association from 2004 to 2008.
The father of five children, Vincent spent his playing career championing social justice, civil rights and gender equality. He is a longtime advocate against domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
SOURCE: Michael Harriot